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Article
July 7, 1962

Disease and Disorder

Author Affiliations

Institute for Advancement of Medical Communication, New York City 21

JAMA. 1962;181(1):63. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050270065019

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  Usually Ashley Montagu contributes to progress in whatever field he ventures. However, in his one-page discussion, "On the Distinction Between Disease and Disorder," (JAMA179:826 [March 10] 1962), he has not been particularly enlightening. His distinction between disease (morbid change in tissue due to specific microorganisms) and disorder (disturbance in structure or function from any cause) is an artificial one, and one which defeats the purposes of many medical educators in attempting to develop in medical students a way of looking at disease. This approach regards disease as a deviation from optimal levels of health, regardless of causation. Thus, fractures, appendicitis, tuberculosis, schizophrenia, sickle-cell anemia, etc., are all diseases. The viewpoint also considers disease as a breakdown in the balance between the host and environment, the latter including or not including a specific agent. Another important part of the viewpoint is the so-called spectrum of disease

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